Elearning management system
1 ELearning Management Systems
Adam Binet, Memorial University of Newfoundland
2 Definitions and background
Learning Management Systems (LMS) are web-based classrooms. According to Musbah and Muhammad (2013), e-learning is rapidly evolving with the use of LMS. They enable educators and learners to have continuous access to course materials, broadcast announcements, submit and receive feedback on assignments, and network among classmates (Lonn & Teasley, 2009). Bonk, Olson, Wisher and Orvis (2002) observed that the development of LMS was prompted by cost and ease of accessibility of learning in the private sector.
There has been an increased use of e-learning as a fundamental means of teaching in post-secondary institutions, enabled by LMS (Musbah & Muhammad, 2013). LMS such as Blackboard and Moodle are frequently used by universities and colleges (Meishar-Tal, Kurtz, & Pieterse, 2012). Some LMS platforms, such as Moodle, are open source, meaning they are available without financial or proprietary obligation (Lawler, 2011). This is in contrast to a system such as Blackboard with requires a licensing agreement (Lawler, 2011). Studies done by Meishar-Tal et al. and Wang, Lit Woo, Lang Quek, Yang, and Liu (2012) add that the social networking site Facebook has also emerged as another type of LMS through the functionality of its group settings.
The infrastructure of LMS affords institutions and students convenience and improved access, described as “primary catalysts” (p. 137) to online learning (Murray, Pérez, Geist, & Hedrick, 2012). LMS provide the flexibility to learn when it is convenient for the learner (Musbah & Muhammad, 2013; Subramaniam & Kandasamy, 2011). In addition, it can enable progression through the course at an individualized pace (Wen, Cuzzola, & Brown, 2012; Smeureanu & Isaila, 2011). This self-paced approach leads to more autonomous study (Rhode, 2009). Similarly, Martin and Noakes (2012) discuss LMS as a tool enabling students to have some control over their learning. They describe the systems as a shift away from the “traditional” (p. 288) role of the teacher as a “repository of learning” (p. 288), defining the new role as that of a facilitator, thus empowering students to learn autonomously.
Not only do LMS offer convenience, they also increase accessibility to learning (Bongalos, Bulaon, Celedonio, De Guzman, & Ogarte, 2006). Before the advent of LMS and e-learning, individuals with physical disabilities did not have the same access to education as they do today (Fitchen et al., 2009). This is supported by Elias (2010) who found that features and tools within Moodle offered greater accessibility to students with disabilities. Debevc & Bele (2008) add that students with special needs, such as deafness, adjust easily to the use of the LMS Moodle. LMS can embrace the diversity of disabled and non-disabled students through facilitation of communication and participation, creating an inclusive environment in which to learn (Soeiro, de Figueiredo, & Ferreira, 2012). Furthermore, LMS grants access to education and training opportunities to those who live in remote and isolated areas, opportunities they otherwise would have to commute or relocate for (Salyers, Carter, Barret, & Williams, 2010).
There is also an improved collaboration that occurs within LMS (Venter, Jansen Van Rensburg, & Davis, 2012). This is evidenced by Barr, Gower and Clayton (2008), who identified that enhanced communication and facilitated student-to-student interaction occur with the use of the system Moodle. As discussed by Gan and Zhu (2007), this approach to education as a “collaborative learning environment” (p. 216) provides a way for students to communicate, problem solve and work together. This collaboration and interaction are essential for meaningful learning to occur (Kupczynski, Gibson, Ice, Richardson and Challoo, 2011). LMS provide an environment that allows knowledge building to take place through collective sharing of opinions, resources and experiences, thus students educate one another (Ng'ambi & Lombe, 2012; Gan & Zhu, 2007)
LMS are not without drawbacks, one of which is the use of asynchronous format (Schober & Keller, 2012; Subramaniam & Kandasamy, 2011). Instantaneous interaction between the learner and the instructor is prohibited in such an environment (Subramaniam & Kandasamy, 2011). Subramaniam and Kandasamy (2011) concluded that the tools available in asynchronous learning do not facilitate attention to pressing issues or questions. Wen, Cuzzola and Brown (2012) posited that the perpetual access afforded by asynchronous learning within LMS is particularly challenging when students reside in various time zones. This issue affects students’ abilities to participate in class discussions in a timely fashion (Liu, Liu, Lee, & Magjuka, 2010). This lack of real-time interaction leads to student frustration (Wen et al., 2012). Moreover Liu et al. (2010) discuss the students’ perceptions of cultural barriers with respect to participating in asynchronous group work with colleagues. They argue that this environment challenges the interpretation of “the nuances of human interaction” (p. 183). They concluded that this leads to difficult relations between students from different cultures with different working styles.
Schober and Keller (2012) observed that students experienced frustration with LMS, which they found leads to a decrease in motivation. Universities and colleges tend to utilize traditional instruction styles in LMS with the assumption that this environment is conducive to this type of learning. This also leads to a decrease in student motivation (Kirschner, Strijbos, Kreijns, & Beers, 2004). Muilenburg and Berge (2005) add that there exists a correlation between decreased motivation with the use of LMS and higher attrition rates.
Another challenge facing LMS’ course delivery is a lack of “instructional design support” (Salyers, Carter, Barrett, & Williams, 2010, para. 2). Attention to LMS design in itself can be deficient (Oliver, 1999). Design elements can lack the affordance of interpersonal interaction (Rhode, 2009). Though is it easy to create an impressive looking, interactive course using LMS, Koszalka and Ganesan (2004) argued that the incorporation of a variety of elements do not enhance the learning process. They found a lack of focus on instructional design potentially leads to an inadequate learning experience. As said by Steel (2009), “technologies are not appropriate for all curriculums, teachers and students (p. 416).
6 Works Cited
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